Monday, February 23, 2009

Belonging: New Poetry by Iranians Around the World - Niloufar Talebi

Host Pam Grange recalls the February 19th event with author Niloufar Talebi:

What a dynamic and fascinating woman! Born in London and raised in Iran, she now lives in New York, speaks English (with no accent), Persian, and French, and was a professional dancer until she damaged her knee. She has an MFA in writing and literature. She also studied theater with Jean Shelton and Cyril Clayton and has produced and performed nationally. Niloufar founded and serves as artistic director of a group called The Translation Project, whose vision is to increase the visibility of contemporary Iranian literature on the world stage, create a greater opportunity for Iranian literature to be part of the modern conversation, and she teaches translation.

During the four violent years she and her family lived in Iran following the 1979 revolution, they would often – very discreetly – host ‘literary salons’ in their home with some of the finest poets from the old Iran – that of the Shah.

In her book, Belonging, Niloufar has gathered and translated the poetry of the Iranian diaspora, and her ability to switch seamlessly between English and Persian as she read from the poems inspired depth and feeling in both languages. The book contains poems from three different age groups: the older generation who grew up with the Shah; the middle generation; and the ‘younger’ generation – those in their 30s and 40s today. The different groups of poems reflect the changing history and experiences of these celebrated Iranian poets.

One of our favorite local authors, Firoozeh Dumas, (also a dynamic and fascinating woman!) introduced Niloufar to the mostly, but not exclusively, Iranian audience. Poetry has never been at the top of my reading choices, but I thoroughly enjoyed the evening!

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